Republican incumbent Jim Jordan and Democratic challenger Shannon Freshour debated in St. Mary’s, Ohio this past Tuesday. The candidates are running for United States Congress in Ohio’s 4th District, which represents Oberlin.
During the debate, the candidates covered various issues, including typical campaign topics like Social Security, health care, and the Second Amendment. The candidates also discussed more recent issues such as whether or not Ohio Governor Mike DeWine overstepped by shutting down the state due to COVID-19 last spring or the way that cancel culture impacts public discourse.
Jordan, who has held his House seat since 2007 and is a founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, aligned himself with Trump’s politics throughout the debate. He specifically warned voters against the possibility of Democrats holding both executive and legislative power.
“The values, the institution, the principles that make us the greatest nation ever — that’s what’s at stake in this election,” Jordan said. “I think President Trump’s gonna win … but just imagine if it’s the other way around. If it’s President Biden, if it’s leader Schumer, and it’s still Speaker Pelosi, and imagine where they will take this. Think about the last several months: Democrat governors, Democrat mayors, wouldn’t let you go to church, won’t let you go to work, won’t let you go to school, wouldn’t let you attend a loved one’s funeral. But, oh, you can protest, riot, and loot all you want.”
Freshour billed herself as someone who benefited from the government’s social safety net through school lunches and programs like Head Start. She said that her goal is to give back to her community.
“I come from a family where my mom was on welfare when I was born. She’d left an abusive marriage so that my brother and I could have a better life, and to do that, the taxpayers of Ohio supported our family, they paid for welfare, and they gave my mom job training,” Freshour said. “That job training … allowed me to be standing here today to take that responsibility and the trust that the people of Ohio have that have given to me that I can move on and repay the people and the taxpayers by being the best public servant I can be.”
The Freshour campaign was pleased with the results of the debate and felt that the candidate was well represented.
“We felt that she gave voters a strong contrast between herself and Rep. Jordan’s failed leadership, and presented her vision for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District,” wrote Deputy Communication Director for the Freshour Campaign and College fourth-year Ilana Foggle in an email to the Review.
The hour-long debate was one of two debates the candidates planned before the general election on Nov. 3, but it was almost canceled because of concerns surrounding coronavirus exposure.
Freshour was exposed to coronavirus through Representative Joe Miller but was tested the Sunday before the debate. Because Freshour’s results could not be processed and made available before Tuesday, her campaign asked Jordan to reschedule. He declined and said that his busy schedule would prevent him from finding a later time.
Both candidates ended up attending the in-person debate, and Freshour wore a mask for its entirety. Jordan did not wear a mask but tested negative the Friday before the debate after being exposed to President Trump on Air Force One prior to the Presidential Debate.
“After much discussion — Shannon attended because it was important that voters hear from both her and Jordan,” Foggle wrote in her email. “She even wore two masks to the debate in order to mitigate any potential risk.”
With only 25 days until Election Day, the campaigns have picked up speed. Freshour has gained several significant endorsements, including the Plain Dealer’s editorial board. The newspaper is the largest in Ohio and previously endorsed Jim Jordan in both 2014 and 2018.
“Freshour offers a judicious, reasonable alternative to Jordan, promising to reinstitute comity in this seat and to work to improve access to health care and education, and to repair the federal safety net for people in need of assistance in her district and beyond,” the editorial board wrote.
Students who are registered to vote in Oberlin can find out more information about the candidates by watching the debate. For more information about voting this November, students can consult Associate Professor of Geology Zeb Page’s student voting resource document.
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